A real surprise is a new release by vocalist Arnold McCuller, "Soon As I Get Paid" (What's Good Records). As a vocalist he has worked as a session singer with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt Phil Collins, Lyle Lovett and James Taylor as well as had his own choice recordings issued over two decades and a half. His early singing was rooted in the church and was with the national Touring Company of "Hair." More recently he has been touring with James Taylor, and involved with upcoming Ry Cooder and Eric Clapton recordings.
From the opening moments with the title track, McCuller shows himself to be a terrific singer, rooted in the blues and soul. His vocals are wonderfully delivered and the backing complements his expressiveness. Even the blues-rock touches are generally understated. It is hard pressed to pick out standout tracks. The title track is a stunning bluesy piece while Gasoline and Matches, is a marvelous duet with Thelma Jones. It is followed by a fine rendition of the Big Jay McNeely-Little Sonny Warner classic There is Something On Your Mind, with a fine guitar solo from Mike Landau.
McCuller does a wonderful re-imaging of the Jackie Wilson classic Lonely Teardrops, slowing down the tempo and singing in a fashion that captures a fair amount of the heartache of the lyrics. McCuller observes that Wilson was performing this when he suffered a heart attack and stroke that left him in a coma for 8 years and obviously is a significant influence on McCuller. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man is a nice rendition of the Dan Penn and Chips Moman tunes that Aretha is most identified with. Obviously having a man sing it gives the words somewhat a different tenor. The catholicity of McCuller's repertoire is also displayed by his solid rendition of JB Lenoir's The Whale Swallowed Me, with his aching vocal complemented by Landau's spare trebly guitar and Larry Goldings restrained organ.
Soon As I Get Paid was a revelation as Arnold McCuller shows himself to be a first-rate singer, backed by a sympathetic band on this impressive release. His website is http://www.arnoldmcculler.com/ and this can be ordered there.
I received my review copy from a publicist for this release.